Whereas most contemporary thrillers forsake well-built suspense for sloppy, contrived finales, Arlington Road takes a swift about-face on that lazy tradition. The high-concept plot packs little punch or mystery, as Jeff Bridges' widowered history professor becomes increasingly suspicious that friendly neighbor Tim Robbins is an anti-government terrorist. Bridges' pattern of paranoia is prosaic and predictable, and Robbins' every sinister turn is obvious and formulaic. Yet screenwriter Ehren Kruger and director Mark Pellington conspire to wrap it all up in a tight, provocative ending that almost persuades one to overlook the dull preceding flaws. Almost. The build-up's saving grace is Pellington's unusual high-contrast lighting and skillful use of the full widescreen frame. This is no help, though, to fine actress Hope Davis, as Bridges' daft young lover, whose character stupidly ignores apparent warning signs. Presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround 2.0. Includes commentary by Pellington and Bridges, an alternate ending, a making-of featurette, and trailers of other Bridges films. Keep case.
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